Music, July 1971: “He’s Hot. He’s Sexy. He’s Dead.”

Carly Simon’s Anticipation was about Cat Steven,s as was Legend in Your Own Time.

More random music recollections based on the book Never A Dull Moment.

I was working at the comic book store in July 1981, when the headline that is the title of this piece was splashed across the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. It was referring to Jim Morrison, the third prominent musician in a brief period a decade earlier to die at the age of 27, after Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.

Morrison’s death created this odd obsession about 27, but it also mythologized the Doors’ lead singer. (I went out briefly in the late 1970s with a woman who was part of that JM cult.)

But three Londoners would take their place, and the place of the now-dissolved Beatles, in the charts. One was Steven Georgiou, who had a minor hit as early as 1966, but then suffered from TB. Reemerging in 1970, “he was a regular James Taylor.”

“Cat Stevens became enormously successful in 1971… he had a lovely voice..and an angel face, the kind that seemed to match the sensitivity of the material.” I bought my share of his albums. Carly Simon’s Anticipation was about him, as was Legend in Your Own Time; before Cat introduced Carly to JT, Cat and Carly were an item.

“The 1971 generation of singer-songwriters… were increasingly infatuated with each other.” This briefly included Janis Joplin and Leonard Cohen. He later apologized for writing about it in Chelsea Hotel #2.

Marc Feld, like Cat, was a descendant of immigrants. He became Marc Bolan of T. Rex, an artist who would perform sitting down because he was influenced by Ravi Shankar. He had a way of infuriating the British press at a time when, because one had limited opportunity to be heard, the image that one projected mattered. But that summer, T. Rex had some massive hits, notably Bang A Gong.

Rod Stewart had been with the Faces, but his third solo album, Every Picture Tells A Story, which was another album everyone in my dorm had, “was about to propel him into a different orbit… Everything Rod sang sounded like an old song, and everyone prefers a song they already know.”

Listen to:

Every Picture Tells A Story – Rod Stewart here or here
Jeepster- T. Rex here or here
Tuesday’s Dead – Cat Stevens here or here
Riders on the Storm – the Doors here or here
I’m Eighteen – Alice Cooper here or here
Without You – Harry Nilsson here or here

Carly Simon is 70

Mockingbird also charted in Canada , New Zealand, the UK.

Carly_Simon_-_Best_ofLong before I knew the name Carly Simon, I was listening to the folk music of the Simon Sisters, especially Winkin’, Blinkin’, And Nod, which managed to get to #73 on the pop charts back in 1964. Here’s Winkin’, live, from 1968, with middle sister Lucy; Carly was the youngest girl. Listen to The Simon Sisters sing for Children.

The three Simon sisters, including opera singer Joanna, the oldest, are all accomplished singers, influenced heavily by their parents. Their father was the co-founder of the book publishing house Simon & Schuster. Watch this piece about the sisters from the early 1980s.

From Wikipedia: “For her 1988 hit ‘Let the River Run’, from the film Working Girl, Simon became the first artist in history to win a Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe Award for a song both written and performed entirely by a single artist. She was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for ‘You’re So Vain’ in 2004, and awarded the ASCAP Founders Award in 2012.”

The folks at the Grammys named her best new artist of 1972, a choice that has proved sage over time. She beat out Bill Withers; Chase; Emerson, Lake & Palmer; and Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds.

10. Better Not Tell Her. My favorite Carly Simon album is Have You Seen Me Lately?, which only got to #60 on the Billboard charts in 1990. This song, despite the video, did not chart at all.

9. Nobody Does It Better (#2 for three weeks in 1977). One of the two or three best James Bond songs, this from The Spy Who Loved Me. It was kept out of the top slot by You Light Up My Life, which was #1 for TEN weeks.

8. Legend in Your Own Time (#50 in 1972). Reportedly about Cat Stevens, who she dated for a time, I always it took as a sarcastic dig of a “legend in your own mind.” Yet it seems sweetly delivered.

7. Mockingbird (#5 in 1974). A duet with then-husband James Taylor, I like how they switch off harmony and lead vocals. From here: “It also charted in Canada (#3), New Zealand (#6), the UK (#34)… In recent years Taylor has performed ‘Mockingbird’ live with his daughter (by Simon) Sally Taylor and Simon has performed the song live with her and Taylor’s son Ben Taylor.” I could find only this live version.

6. You’re So Vain (#1 for three weeks in 1973). I actually never much cared WHO the song was about. It evidently is NOT about Mick Jagger (who sings on the song), Warren Beatty, James Taylor, Kris Kristofferson, Cat Stevens, or David Geffen, though she once said it was about Geffen. Here’s a strange 2011 video.

5. Haven’t Got Time for the Pain (#14 in 1974). At the end of this song is one of my favorite uses of strings.

4. Fisherman’​s Song. This shows up on a recording for children and with Judy Collins and Lucy Simon on her 1990 album. Here’s Carly Simon talking with Joan Lunden, before singing it.

3. It’s Not Like Him. ALSO from Better Not Tell Her. Song of marital betrayal.

2. Anticipation (#13 in 1972). Almost ruined by its association with a Heinz catsup commercial, it still ends with the most hopeful line, “These are the good old days.”

1. That’s The Way I Always Heard It Should Be (#10 in 1971). I find this song unrelentingly sad, with ***
Carly Simon’s feet.

N is for Nostalgia

Strange, but I found even then that people have a greater recollection of things that I allegedly said and did than I do.

At some level, I’m not a very nostalgic guy. As Billy Joel put it in Keeping the Faith, and I quote, The good old days weren’t always good. It seems as though, in the US, there are dreams of the 1950s being the “good old days”, represented by TV shows such as Ozzie and Harriet or Father Knows Best, with dad out working all day, with mom home raising the kids and wearing pearls when her husband came home for dinner. It was never MY experience.

The 1950s were a period of the cold war paranoia of “duck and cover”, and an unsettling racial climate; I’ve written before how the death of Emmett Till affected me deeply.

And it’s not just the 1950s. I went to my 10th high school reunion back in 1981 and I found it quite disturbing, so annoying, still fighting the same fights that should have been over a decade before. Or lots of conversations about “remember when so-and-so did such-and-such”; well, either the answer is yes, and so what, or no, and so what. It’s like the Springsteen song from Born in the USA, Glory Days:
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of, well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister but
boring stories of glory days.

Strange, but I found even then that people have a greater recollection of things that I allegedly said and did than I do.

Therefore I was quite interested in this story I saw on CBS Sunday Morning last year, Nostalgia: Power of the “Good Old Days”

But you might be surprised to learn that nostalgia – which is all about the past – has a notorious past of its own. For centuries it was considered a disease and a form of depression. Soldiers even feared it as homesickness and thought it could kill them.
I could almost believe that.

But it is not so, apparently. In fact:
Reliving good times can be a critical tool for surviving these bad times.

“If right now everything is terrible and bleak if you’re out of work and you can’t pay your mortgage and you’ve been evicted and you think, ‘there’s nowhere for me to turn,’ it is actually healthy to look to the past and to say, ‘What else have I survived before?'”
(l-r, Carol, Lois, Karen, Roger, Bill)

Now I DID agree to go to my 35th high school reunion a few years ago, but there was only one reason. There were a group of my oldest friends that were going to be there. When I say “oldest”, I mean that we all went to kindergarten together at Daniel Dickinson school in Binghamton, NY, and all graduated together from 12th grade at Binghamton Central High School. The thing about THESE friends is that we had known each other for SO long that we didn’t NEED to rehash old stuff, just needed to catch up on things.

We didn’t say, “Oh remember in second grade when we danced to the Minuet in G?” (I danced with Carol, Bill with Karen, Bernie with Lois.) Well, they do or they don’t and it doesn’t matter. “Do you remember going to Carol’s parents’ summer place in northern Pennsylvania?” Of course they do; no need to ask. There’s a certain shorthand you develop when you’ve known people a long time, even when you haven’t seen them in many years.

Still, I try to be a proponent of Carly Simon’s Anticipation, specifically the last line: “THESE are the good old days.”

ABC Wednesday – Round 7

Guilty pleasure music QUESTION

Ah — Beach Boys harmony.

Some people, rightly, do not believe in the notion of “guilty pleasure” regarding one’s taste in movies, TV, music and the like. I use the phrase more as it’s understood as something the cool kids don’t watch/listen to.

Links included.

Could It Be Magic – Barry Manilow. First it was the piano intro (and outro) that was a direct, and apparently unconscious, steal of Chopin’s Prelude No. 20 in C Minor. But eventually I got sucked into the whole strings, especally as the strings build at about the three-minute mark.

I Haven’t Got Time For The Pain – Carly Simon. But especially the strings at the end. BTW, Lesley Gore – yes, THAT Lesley Gore – does her own version, pretty good, but without that great ending.

Wishing You Were Here – Chicago. It’s not the whole song; I find Peter Cetera’s vocals on the bridge occasionally grating. But it is that lovely Beach Boys harmony from Al Jardine, Carl Wilson, and Dennis Wilson that has always moved me.

Rosanna-Toto. You that part, “Not quite a year…”? Well, I love that bit. More than that, I love singing along in harmony vocal. If I think about it, there are a number of songs I enjoy specifically on that basis.

ABC-Jackson 5 When they first came out, they were considered “bubblegum soul”, and no song epitomized that more than this abecedarian tune. Thing is, I could always sing all the parts that Tito and especially Jermaine (second lead on most tunes) performed, so I always had a soft spot for the early J5,.

What are YOUR musical guilty pleasures?

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